By Kevin O’Rourke
Friday night at Northwest High School, the Blair Blazers were playing in the school’s first ever post season football game. The Northwest Jaguars, on the other hand, were starting the defense of their 4A State Championship. And in the first half, the Jags offense were playing like team headed for M&T Bank Stadium and a title defense.
Northwest Head Coach Michael Neubeiser put the ball in the trusted hands of E.J. Lee and Mark Pierce on the first drive. Lee would run the ball for a first down to get the Jags rolling, and break off a 33-yard run to move the Jags to within striking distance. Pierce would throw two passes one to Aaron Beidleman, and another to Lee for a three yard hook-up on fourth and one. Lee would then punch in a two-yard touchdown to give the Jags the 7-0 lead.
On the next series, Northwest special teams would come up big. First the kick-off team would pin the Blazers on the 16-yard line. Blair would test their running game and find it lacking against the Jaguars defense. After two runs and fumble in the backfield Blair would be forced to punt. Northwest’s Brendan Thompson would block the punt forcing the ball out the back of the end zone and giving the Jags and safety. Jaguars lead 9-0.
Once again the Northwest special teams would come up big as Troy Leferged would break off a 44-yard kickoff return after the Blair safety, setting the Jags up on the Blazer 20 yard line.
Pierce and the Jags offense would make good use of the field position, with a pass to Brandon Williams, followed by a touchdown run by Khalil Owens, to extend the lead to 15-0. The extra point would be just short.
Blair would eek out a field goal, as a result of a long return by Ben Massinga which started as a muffed return but ended up being a 50 yard return to set the Blazers up in Northwest territory. The Blazer offense would stall at the Northwest 10-yard line, and Ben Guzman would put the Blazers only points on the board and the first quarter would end 15-3 Jags.
A 33-yard E.J. Lee kick-return would give the Northwest offense another short field. Pierce would throw a pass to Ezekiel Gandy, and Lee would plunge into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night, after a 12 yard power run to get the ball down to the one-inch line. Mark Pierce would call his own number and run the ball in for a two-point conversion. The Jags lead 23-3 with 11:33 seconds in the second quarter.
Blair’s offense could not find any traction against a stifling Northwest defense. Blair running back Yonis Blanco ran well all game finding holes were none seemed exist, but he could not break on through the Northwest secondary.
The Northwest defense would put heavy pressure on Blair quarterback Desmond Colby all game, while was able to connect on a few passes, he would feel the heat each time he dropped back.
The Jags would start at their own 18. Mark Pierce get flushed out of the pocket and find Aaron Beidleman to move the ball to the 40 yard line. Pierce would then connect with Jamar Wilson on a 50 yard touchdown pass and run, but would be negated by a Northwest penalty. Lee would twist and turn his way down the 12-yard line, where Pierce would find Lefeged on a 12-yard pass play over the middle. The extra point was good, Northwest dominating 30-3.
Blair would attempt a fake punt, but the Jags sniffed it out and took the resulting field position into another touchdown and two point conversion to end the scoring 38-3 just prior to the end of the first half.
The second half would see Blair continue struggle to move the ball and Northwest start to rest players for next week’s match-up against rival Quince Orchard High School. The QO Cougars dispatched Clarksburg 21-14 on Friday night to earn the right to host Northwest last week. Northwest (10-1) will be looking to avenge the Nov.1 loss at the (10-1) Cougars, as the number one and number two seeds in the 4A West face off in the Regional Final.
Top: E.J. Lee (23) rushes for positive yards in Northwest playoff win over Blair.
Next: Northwest senior Troy Lefeged (7) dives over the goal-line to put the Jaguars up 30-3 and help them advance.
Next: Northwest junior defensive end Mervin Janet (51) flushes Blair’s Desmond Colby (18) out of the pocket and tackles him for no gain.
Next: Northwest’s defense stiffed the Blair running game, senior defensive end Aleck Rosemond (6) tackles Blair’s running back Yonis Blanco (8) for a loss.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.